Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J K Rowling. No profit is being made.
Truth be told, I honestly think he's angry with me. Angry, annoyed, whatever the adjective is, it's what's keeping him always three paces ahead of me, arms either sternly by his side or mechanically folded across his chest. And then there's the sighing. The endless sighing; it's driving me bloody starkers. It's always through the nose. Always a deep inhale and an exaggeratedly long exhale. The kind of angry sigh reserved for disapproving fathers.
I haven't a clue to what has got his shiny coattails in a twist. But not knowing is certainly not helping with the need to figure him out. It would be worlds easier if he spoke to me. And not in the nature he has been for the past few days; in the manner a normal person would go about speaking to someone else. Not in guarded retorts and pompous opinions.
I know that his pride is an issue, as it is with every other male on the planet. I have experience in handling bruised prides; my best friend is a Weasley, after all.
I honestly can't grasp why he wouldn't just forget about that now. It's not as if I'll be running off and telling my friends what he said. And even if I did have somebody to tell, I'm sure as my legs are tired that I would rather die before having to explain to my dunderhead best friends exactly why I spoke to Draco Malfoy regarding something other than his prison sentence.
And blimey, my legs truly are tired. I feel as if I've been walking for days. And Merlin knows, maybe I have. How big is this ruddy cave? I feel as if I've just walked all the way to Saudi Arabia in the dark. With the world's most miserable companion. A few hours ago, however, he did hand me a stale chunk of bread and a bitter plum.
I couldn't help but to wonder what I would have received if he didn't loathe me more than average at the moment. With my luck, a giant turkey feast. Though the chances of him having that in his knapsack are generously slim (but if he somehow managed, would I really be surprised?).
So I just keep walking. Even though my knees are knocking and there's a rather painful stitch in my side and the sodding cave floor is not exactly forgiving on the soles of my shoes.
So why am I still walking? What service do I owe to Malfoy that's keeping my sore legs in painful motion? I should just stop. Stop and sit and revel in my despair.
But if I stop, the food is going to walk away. The food that is swinging past his stupid athletic body inside that bag. And do I really want the food to go away?
"Piss it," I grumbled and stopped my next step short.
Then as quickly as a snitch flies, Draco Malfoy stopped dead in his tracks and whipped around, the eerie bit of pale light showing an incredulous look on his face. I think he may have swallowed his tongue.
"Oh. I'm tired of walking."
He shook his head.
"Oh, er, right. It looks like there might be an opening up past these ridges. We can sit there."
He extended his hand and placed it on my shoulder to help me move along. He looked to my shoulder for a brief second and whipped his hand back, something unrecognizable flashing in his eyes.
And there's his intake of breath. As I followed him begrudgingly I waited to hear the sigh that I knew was going to inevitably follow.
It never came.
Was he holding his breath?
Oh, perhaps my Muggleborn flesh scalded him. Perhaps he broke out in a rash, a result from my serpentine skin. Perhaps I should just steal the knapsack and push him off of a cliff. Perhaps that would work if I were a big, burly man. However, that is not the case, so I'll follow him with a frown permanently set on my face.
He coughed to clear his throat. Oh, poor Draco. Maybe he's so allergic to my Muggle flesh that his throat is closing up. What a pity that would be.
"Well, here seems good."
"Fine," I snapped. I even crossed my arms like a petulant child, just for good measure. He took out a canteen and drank from it for a few brief seconds. Then he extended it to me.
Without a word I snatched it out of his hands, water sloshing out of the top.
"Bloody perfect." I rubbed desperately at the wet spot the water left, probably transferring dirt from my hands onto my pants. I could care less.
"I thought you were tired, Granger." The mysterious glow settled in our opening of the cave; it allowed me to see that he was frowning. And that made me angry.
"I am tired."
"Then why the blasted dramatics, Granger? You got what you wanted."
Obviously,Malfoy, that statement is not true because you are still here.
I turned my angry glare on him. "My dramatics? Oh, so, is there a rule in this cave? There's only room for one wanker?"
"What in the name of Merlin are you going on about?"
"How's your hand, then, Malfoy? Need some burn ointment?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Granger."
"Well you touched me, didn't you? With your hand, just then? Ho ho, be quick, Malfoy! Before you have to amputate it."
He opened his mouth as if to speak, but let it hang open for a moment. He snapped it shut and narrowed his eyes at me.
"You're a real piece of work, Granger." He was shaking his head. He had the nerve to shake his head. When he was finished being such a ponce, he lay down on his side and started in the ignore Hermione regime. Which didn't look like such a bad idea.
I slid down onto the cold stone, the rise and fall of my chest severely erratic with my anger.
"Wanker," I muttered softly. I guess it doesn't really make a difference if he hears me or not; it's not like I'll be fed again before I die. Wow. Before I die. It's actually been a while since I've really thought on the subject. When you're in a war, it's almost expected of you not to dwell on the fact that death is an ever-present force. But when you're faced with it, under such a different context then you taught yourself to deal with, it eats away at your reasoning and your character and everything that holds you together and keeps you sane and makes you the person attached to the name.
So now I lay here, my pulse throbbing loudly in my ears. It's almost ear splitting. I'm biting on my lower lip to ease the discomfort, although it's really not helping in the slightest. And then something I truly hadn't thought of hit me. My eyes widened in horror as I tried to scheme up a plan to make this work. I don't know how I hadn't realized this would be an issue before. I crouched into a sitting position and hoped against all hope that he had passed out. But, because luck is not on my side, the second I stood I heard his voice cut through the silence of the cave.
"Where are you going, Granger?"
"I need to go for a little walk." I kept my eyes pressed tightly together, my breath held uncomfortably long as I waited for his response.
"Okay," he said, gathering his things. "Lets go, then."
"You just said that you wanted to go."
"No, it's not that it's just. You can't come."
"Are you still griping about before, Granger? You can't be serious, it was your bloody shoulder –"
I sucked in the greatest amount of air my lungs would allow before saying what I was about to say.
"I have to go to the bathroom."
I'm sure I heard the blood rush to my face, or was it his?
"Oh! Oh. Well." He cleared his throat. "Uh, try going where we already came from , then, Granger."
"And take this with you. So you don't get lost." He pulled a jar of bottled flames out of his bag. My eyes then lost ability to move, they tried to widen with horror and narrow with disgust at the same time.
"I didn't think it was necessary to use it when we were just sitting."
"Yeah, but. It's light, Malfoy. It would be helpful!"
"Where do you think the light was coming from when we were walking? The moon?"
I glared at him and took the jar of flames before picking my bruised ego off the floor and dragging it off to do its embarrassing business.
I have never been more afraid to face someone ever again in my life. I really contemplated not going back to him at all. But he is the one with the food. And now the only source of light. And I figure if I'm going to die, I might as well not make it be alone.
I was surprised, however, when I returned to find him not waiting to mock me, but nonchalantly leaning against a wall, humming a familiar tune. It only took me a few seconds to identify the song, but it didn't come as less of a shock when I did.
"Our sorting hat's song? Really?" The humming stopped abruptly.
"How on earth do you know that?"
"Malfoy. What don't I know?"
"Well, to name a few thousand things..."
I rolled my eyes. Bloody cad.
"Well then, what don't I know about Hogwarts?"
"Assuming you've read Hogwarts: A History cover to cover, in different editions, I'm sure you know more about Hogwarts than it knows about itself."
I couldn't help but to laugh. I know it's ridiculous and it should have never happened, but he really did have a point. Although he never knew about our beloved map. It wasn't until he let a chuckle loose did I stop with disbelief-ridden eyes. His eyes were almost a perfect mirror-image of my own. I sniffed once and crossed my arms, looking away from his direction.
Stupid, useless, life-ruining cave.
It wasn't until hours later that he started showing any signs of life. We both just sat so robotically waiting for the other to say something first. He didn't need to say anything, however, to tell me what he wanted to say. The restless leg syndrome happening 20 paces to my left was all I needed to hear to know that he was ready to keep going.
And the bloody sighing.
I inhaled meekly and rubbed my palms on my legs. "Well then. Think it's about time to start moving?"
"Sweet sister of Merlin, yes."
And that was the beginning and end of that issue. We silently gathered our small amount of belongings; he packed away the flames, only enough so that there was a small sheen of blue light cascading around where we stood. And we continued on walking. Not knowing, or caring for that matter, if the direction was helpful at all, just the fact that our legs were moving and we hadn't died yet gave us the energy to keep moving.
Moving in complete silence, but moving nonetheless.
Our steps in are sync with each other. My arms are swinging awkwardly by my side; he looks like the picture of athletic success. And even though he is the vilest of human beings, I feel the need to hear him speak. I'm sure it's just the need to hear anyone talk, but all my mind can register is that it's Malfoy. Everything's bloody Malfoy.
I'm coming to terms with the fact that it's nearly an impossible feat to truly know Malfoy; or any other person for that matter. You either trust their decisions or you don't; and when you don't is when you're desperate for the reasons why they're doing such untrustworthy things. I like to think it's written in human nature to do this, and I'm not the exception. But whatever else human natures tells us and guides us to do, the only true fact I know right now is that if I don't hear someone other than myself speak I will drive myself insane.
"Don't forget you know, Malfoy. I told you something I would like to do before I die. It's your turn now."
His pace slowed and he eyed me suspiciously.
"You said it was depressing to talk about that, Granger."
"You were the one that said both life and death were depressing, and it was impossible to avoid either."
"You're too bloody observant, Granger."
"So what, Granger. I said it and it was true."
"Not that, you dolt. What did you want to do before you die?"
"You're infuriating, you know that?"
"Yes, now tell me."
The corners of his mouth inched upward a half of a millimeter. My human nature told me to enjoy that.
"I wanted to own a quidditch team."
"Own a quidditch team? Not play for one?"
"No, definitely not play for one."
"Why not? I thought you loved quidditch. You played it for Slytherin."
"You don't fly, do you, Granger."
It wasn't a question. I just flicked my eyes towards his face for a split second to acknowledge his statement.
"To be a good flier, you have to have the love for it flowing through your body. The broom will know if you're afraid, and it'll hold back. I always loved flying, but when it came to playing? I never loved just to play, I played to win. And that's what drove me. And the broom knew, and I could never be better than those who played for the love of it. Doesn't matter what broom you're riding, it's about the attitude towards flying."
"I may not know much about flying, Malfoy, but that sounded to me an awful lot like someone who loves not only flying but playing the game."
"And that's why you don't fly, Granger."
"Oh, that's the reason then? Not the fact that all that's preventing me from soaring through the air to my death is basically a magically enchanted tree branch?"
"So is there anything else? Any other secret passion you never got to dip your toes into?"
"Can't say there is, Granger. Sorry to disappoint."
"Well actually there is one thing. Though I could hardly call it a passion."
"I'm shivering with anticipation."
"Well naturally, Granger."
"So get on with it, then."
"I've never kissed a Muggle."
He honestly didn't just say what I think he said.
"Kissed? Are you barmy?"
I could feel him smirking beside me. It caused a ripple in the calm of the room. "I said before I die, Granger. If that's the way I choose to go, then so be it."
"Death by snogging? Honestly, Malfoy. We don't sprout suction cups and fangs when touched by the lips of a pureblood."
"It's that a fact? Have you ever kissed a pureblood?"
I thought on it, actually, for a few moments. There was Viktor Krum, though I never got around to asking him about his bloodline in detail (because that is, of course, the first thing to ask when courting a young man). And even if I had I'm sure it would have been impossible to decipher his answer through his thick accent. And also, I could hardly call anything I shared with him a kiss. It was more of an embarrassing misguided peck of a situation. And so I came to the shocking realization that I hadn't. I mean, it wasn't shocking, per say. It's not as if I go around kissing every bloke in sight; it's just that for a large sum of time I believed I had something with Ron. And that obviously never happened.
"Well, no, actually, but it's just so ridiculous – "
"Right. So you can't prove it."
My heart hammered in my chest as my eyes narrowed on their own accord.
"You can't truly believe that."
"I don't know, Granger. There's no hard evidence."
Hard evidence my arse. I'll show him hard evidence. The evidence being his mouth right as it's connecting with my hard fist.
"You cannot be serious right now." I had ceased all movement and my body was somehow facing his now, though I can't for the life of me recall moving.
"Well, Granger. It's not as if we go canoodling around with your lot."
"My lot? Oh, so now we're just acknowledged as being 'that lot'?"
"Don't get swotty, Granger."
"I haven't swotted!"
"Well I wouldn't have bloody swotted if it wasn't for you and your bloody theory."
"It's not a theory, Granger. It's a fact until proven otherwise."
And because my mind is completely clouded with anger, and because my hands are shaking by my side, and because I'm completely frazzled down to the very last bone in my very last toe, and because the only way I'm going to walk away from this conversation without his blood on my hands is to bloody prove him wrong.
So with my shaking hands and a shortened step forward, I close the already small distance between us, cutting through the tension like a warm knife through orange marmalade.
And my lips land, rather ungracefully, atop his mildly parted, surprised lips. And I kiss him. I kiss him with a force I've been alien to my entire life. I kiss him for all the girls in the world who have had to argue with a boy. I kiss him for all the people called 'Mudblood'. And I kiss him because there is no way in the great span of the entire world I would grow fangs from touching someone like him. And I kiss him because human nature was staring me down with a challenge, and that challenge I took.
And when I pull back he's already staring at me. He's staring at me with force enough to burn a hole through this cave wall and levitate us back up to sea level. And I suddenly realized what I just did. It wasn't for any girls, it wasn't for tormented witches and wizards across the globe. And if I knew at all what it was for, I would bloody tell you, because right now the look he is giving me is bound to slay me.
"Granger!" he barked at me, his voice cracking just slightly, his eyes wider than sauce bowls. I just angled my gaze towards him, trying to channel some of his malice into my body.
And so what do I do? I rub my face. I rub my face avidly with both hands. And then I hold them out to him for a split second. And I let my voice rise, and I let myself holler. Because I owe it to myself to continue on with the crazy I've started.
"See, Malfoy? No fucking boils!"
I stopped waving my hands madly. I must be going absolutely crazy, because I cannot remember waving them enough to have to stop.
"What. Was. That?"
It was then that I actually took the time to notice him and the state he is currently in. His breathing is deep and ragged, and he has this horrible look on his face. Blimey, I think he may murder me.
And out of all the things to completely push me over the edge during the past few days, this was it. I could feel the anger bubbling in my chest. I could feel it, and it was ready to erupt. I just needed one more push. One more bloody push, Malfoy. We all know you have it in you.
"How else were you going to learn, Malfoy? You kept saying that I swotted, and I do not bloody swot! And really what else was I going to do? I'm so sick and tired of having to try to prove myself to you, like I'm something less than human, and I have to work that much harder to measure up to something that I already am. Do you understand that? Can you at all be a human and feel human feelings for one moment long enough to understand what I'm saying to you?"
"No?No? And why the bloody hell not, Malfoy?"
"Because it doesn't matter, that's why."
"I'm telling you right now that it matters. It really does, Malfoy."
"I know all that you were going on about matters, I'm not completely daft. It just doesn't matter anymore, Granger, if I understand or not. Why does it matter so much? Why can't you bloody just move on and let it be? Stop trying to figure me out. Stop trying to prove me wrong. Stop saying 'piss it' and 'blimey'. Just stop. Stop everything and just live, why don't you?"
"Andyou're living?" Thanks for the push, Malfoy. "How in all carnation are you living anymore than the rest of us?"
He put his hands over his face. "Just let it rest, Granger."
"Tell me how!" I shouted, so loudly I'm sure it echoed throughout the entire cave.
"Fuck it," he muttered. And then there was no space between us any longer. He was suddenly there. I could feel his body against mine, and this time I was sure I hadn't moved an inch. And his hands were on my face, his calloused hands holding my face in place.
And there it was. He was living. His mouth was on mine and I was frozen to the ground with complete and utter shock. I didn't have time to analyze who this was for this time and what it was that was happening, because his mouth was moving against mine with a hunger that put starvation to shame. And his hands: his stupid, sodding, ruddy hands. They were in my hair, on my back, on my side, hovering almost shyly over my bottom.
I didn't even have time to notice his hands holding onto my sides firmly and pushing me back against the cave wall. I couldn't even notice one hand hook around the thin material of my cardigan. I couldn't even notice the other hand that was now securely settled at the nape of my neck, angling my face towards his.
And I couldn't even notice, that despite and my anger, despite my hate, I was kissing him back with as much gusto as I could muster.
And so I just let myself completely go. I lose myself in this kiss. I revel in the feel of his hand pressing onto the skin of my back. I revel in the drum of his heartbeat that I can feel in my own chest. And I lose myself so completely that I don't even notice when his lips leave mine and his mouth travels down my jaw line and to the stretch of skin at the base of my neck. I lose myself so completely that I don't possess enough will power to bite back the soft moan that escaped the confines of my throat.
I did notice, however, when his body seemed to harden and his ministrations stopped abruptly. And I did notice how incredibly awkward and naked I felt standing there in my dirty clothes with him pressed firmly to me. And I did notice the shaky breath he inhaled before he straightened up completely, his height making mine shrink in comparison. And I definitely noticed that he hadn't moved away from me yet.
And I only slightly noticed that a very distant part of me hoped that he wouldn't.
What we both noticed, however, with strained ears and fearful eyes, was the unmistakable sound of footsteps in the distance. If it was at all possible, he pressed himself closer to me and pressed a single finger against my lips; halting the thousands of questions I was ready to ask.
His chin rested on the tip of my head and I could tell he was holding his breath, waiting for a hint of recognition at all. I wanted to tell him it was almost impossible, but with his weight crushing into my torso and his finger on my mouth, I don't think it would be in my best interest to try to do anything at all.
Then, like a gunshot in the dark, I heard something. I know he heard it too, and it wasn't something the two of us were keen on hearing.
It was my name. Someone was in here, yelling my name.
It wasn't a voice I'd ever heard, or could recall hearing. It also didn't sound like a friendly, inviting voice.
But by the way Malfoy's body instantly froze like a statue against mine, I'd be willing to bet he recognized the voice.
And that surely is not a good thing. Not in the slightest.
I almost screamed when I felt hands on either side of me, shaking me out of my frightened daze.
"Granger. Run. Run back to where we came from."
"But, what? Why?"
"It's a Death Eater, Granger. Something's happened; they're coming to get you. When we find you, play along. I haven't been here. Play. Along."
And with a haste kiss to the tip of my forehead he pushed me with long arms into the blackness. And I ran. I ran like I had never run before. My lungs were aching and my feet were screaming, but I ran.
And I stopped. I stopped when I felt as if my heart was going to beat its way out of my chest. And I slid down to the floor, broken and dejected and scared out of my mind. I was numbly aware of the moisture sliding down my face, vaguely aware of the sounds of footsteps and conversation heading in my direction.
Half relieved, half nauseated when one of the voices surely belonged to Malfoy.
"I haven't been here more than fifteen minutes," I heard Malfoy say.
"Did Marcus send you, too?"
"Yes, he told me that if anything were to happen to him where to find his files. Did he send you as well?"
"I crossed him on the battle field, just after he was hit. He told me to make sure I got Granger. And he told me where to go."
"Did he say what to do with her?"
"Fuck me if I know, Draco. What is there left to do? We kill her."
It pained me to think that he may have nodded in response. My mind was swimming with questions I needed to ask. Was this a ruse? Was this for real? Was he really hiding here? Or was I part of some wicked scheme?
I started to panic as the footsteps drew nearer. They would round the corner soon. The other man must have had his wand. They would see me. I was going to die. I was so close to freedom and now I'm going to die. My eyes squeezed shut as I felt my body fall into the path of illumination by the light from the tip of a wand.
"'Lo, pet!" I heard a menacing voice from above me. I opened a crooked eye to see Malfoy's face set rigid, his companion, whom I now recognized as Blaise Zabini, sneering with malice. "Malfoy, grab her."
I let a sob escape as I felt Malfoy scoop me up into his arms. One of his hands, which rested on my waist, began to rub smoothing circles against my skin, in a manner in which Zabini wouldn't be able see.
"Remember, Draco. Twenty paces back, incase we were followed. No one can see her."
"Right," he spoke gruffly, his grip on my other side tightened as his frustration grew. I don't think I had the luxury to complain.
"Flint really fucked this one up, eh Draco? Should've killed the bitch at first opportunity, I say."
And that's how the rest of the journey went. Blaise went on and on about the misgivings of Marcus Flint's plan and how it backfired. How he couldn't wait to watch me take my last breath. About how he had dreamt of this moment since his first sight of me. I wanted to ask him just how much he wanted to kill me, just because the numerous times he had told me hadn't affectively sunk into my brain yet. But one look from Malfoy stopped the words before they made their way through my throat.
"No fucking way," Blaise spat angrily. He whipped around to face us. Draco stopped rubbing my side. "Put her fucking down, Malfoy, fucking now."
"Who is it?" he asked in a quiet, yet urgent tone.
"It's bloody fucking Potter," Blaise growled. He turned to me, a devious glint in his eyes. "Oh, this is far better than I had imagined, pet. Now I get to kill you, and Potter will see. And he'd have only been seconds too late." He reached out and placed his hand on my face, rubbing over my cheek my lips.
And then everything seemed to have happened all at once. I noticed that I could see daylight. And someone out in the daylight had just broken out into a full run. And a quick as a flash, I felt Blaise's wand press into the same curve of neck Draco's lips had been only a half hour before. And my name was being yelled, and the wand pressed deeper, and I could see my parent's faces in my mind. I was saying goodbye, I was finally saying goodbye. And now someone was screaming my name. And I could see Blaise open his mouth in slow motion, I could see his dark lips form the "ah", cradle around the "va", and I closed my eyes for the rest. I felt a hot jet of air flash past my face, and in that instant there was no longer a wand pressed into my throat.
I looked up to see Draco Malfoy, wand extended, face red with pure anger. I looked down to see Blaise Zabini crumpled on the floor, his eyes open and motionless. I looked back to Malfoy and was stunned when I saw Harry rushing past him and crashing into me.
All of Harry's soothing words were formed into a whirlwind around me. My eyes were locked over his shoulder, staring only at Malfoy. He was staring down at the floor, looking a little queasy, to tell the truth. It wasn't until I noticed the tears streaming down my face did I snap out of my reverie.
"Harry, let go of me." As I spoke this I tried to detangle my arms from his grasp. The fact that he was just holding me here irritated me. I looked back up in time to see Malfoy turning to retreat into the daylight.
"Harry!" He pulled back then, a shocked look on his face, which soon turned to anger and disbelief as the second he let me free I broke into a mild sprint, going after Malfoy. I heard, hopefully for the last time today, someone calling my name in the distance as the wind whipped around my face and I ran on my abused feet. I caught up to him and placed a cautious hand on his arm. He turned to me, angled perfectly so Harry was not in my eyeshot.
"Malfoy," I started, but found I couldn't put words to the thousands of thoughts running through my mind. I peered back up at him and felt something tighten in my chest as I saw the sure look of anguish plastered across every feature he possessed.
"Zabini was a friend, Granger."
My heart momentarily skipped three or four vital beats.
"But, you killed him."
It killed me to hear my voice sound so small, but I was afraid if I talked any louder this would be real.
"Don't do this, Granger."
Then something clicked in my brain, and I was left standing there. Standing there with empty realizations and something new throbbing in my hollow body.
"Wait, Malfoy. You killed him."
"Well spotted," he said warily. "But what's your point?"
"You had your wand? That entire bloody time, and you had your wand?"
"Relax, Granger. When I found out it was a secret-kept cave, it was completely useless. They were designed to prohibit the use of magic. Plus, if you had known, you would have attacked me for it."
I narrowed my eyes and crossed my arms over my chest.
"Would not have." He stared at me knowingly. He's right, I know that much. But I wont afford him the luxury of hearing me say that. "What I don't understand, Malfoy, is why bother? Why kill him at all?"
"You're not serious."
"You just said he was your friend. And what am I to you? Why not just let me die?"
He put his face in his hands and rubbed for a few moments.
"Granger," was all he said. And in that one small word, a word I'd heard him speak countless times over the past however many days, I knew. Suddenly, with this one word, all the communication that had been passed between us had just been broken down into its true meaning by just one word. I suddenly knew why Draco Malfoy did the things he did, I suddenly knew everything. But I still had to ask.
"You know why, I've already told you."
"Tell me again."
He bent down and placed another kiss to my forehead, leaving his face there as he spoke.
"I just want you to be able to live."
And that's all Draco Malfoy wanted for himself. He just wanted to live.
I was perfectly contended, standing here with him. I completely forgot about everything. I forgot where we were, what had just happened, everything that was leaving a dirty black smear across the surface of the earth. And then with a rough tug in the other direction, I remembered that Harry was here. And here was the opening of the cave. And I remembered that Harry hates Draco Malfoy.
"Get your filthy hands off her!" Harry spat, pulling me with much too much force towards him. "How can you even talk to her after what you did?"
"Why yes, saving her life?" His normal biting tone was back; it had been a little while since I'd heard it filled with such venom.
"Oh yeah, how noble, when it's your fault she was almost killed in the first place!"
And so it went. History was bound to repeat itself, and repeat itself it did. I caught fragments of insults containing "wanker" and "arse" and a slop of other colorful words.
"Harry," I said loudly, waiting for him to acknowledge me standing here in the middle of this crossfire. "Harry!" I yelled for the second time today, gaining both of their silences.
"He's not the reason why I almost died, Harry. He was locked in the cave with me."
I don't know who looked more surprised, Harry or Draco. Harry turned to Malfoy and narrowed his eyes while he adjusted his glasses. Malfoy just stood and stared at me, his mouth hanging slightly agape.
And now I was kicking myself in the rear, because honestly? What could I say now? Malfoy crawled in there to hide like a big baby?
"What did you say?" Harry asked.
"You're mental," Malfoy whispered.
I looked to Malfoy and then to Harry.
"He was captured with me."
Malfoy looked taken aback. I praised myself for a short moment, thanking myself for being so quick on my toes.
"It was, well, I can't remember what day it was, but I was heading to work and I met with him up in the alleyway, the one right by that tea shop? You know the one, Harry. And he was telling me Death Eater business, that they were planning on starting the battle, and then Marcus Flint showed up and caught us. And that's all I can remember. We ended up in there."
Both of them were staring at me with stunned looks on their faces, Malfoy's only lasted half a second. Harry turned to Malfoy.
"Is that true?"
He nodded. I nodded. Harry blanched.
And so we started walking. My limbs protested and my heart hammered uncomfortably in my chest. But I was breathing fresh air. I was alive. Draco Malfoy was alive. Most likely going to prison, but alive nonetheless. Harry would rub my back encouragingly every couple of minutes. It helped, it really did. I was so glad to see him. See him alive, too. He said the battle had failed, a lot of Death Eaters were lost, some of the Order but not many. Voldemort had managed to slink away, as it seems he always does.
But I didn't dwell on it. The sun was shinning somewhere behind the clouds, and that made it seem all right. And Draco was walking on my right side, his arms brushing my shoulder as we walked. Every now and again his hand would collide with mine and he'd let it linger there.
And everything truly was fine. Because we were living.